Washoe County: Incline has been ‘underserved’ in terms of senior service
Special to the Bonanza
Offered by IVGID as part of its Senior Programs division, Conversation Café is an ongoing weekly meeting every Thursday from 10 to 11:15 a.m. at Aspen Grove, 960 Lakeshore Blvd. A nutritious breakfast is served for $2 per person, and breakfast scholarships are available.
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — At the Oct. 20 Conversation Café gathering in Incline, Washoe County Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler and Assistant County Manager Kevin Schiller came to talk to seniors about possible expanded services due to an influx of funding.
Although they have not released any dollar amounts, Berkbigler and Schiller said the county has dedicated funds to put toward senior programs, including a new senior center — however, they need to be earmarked for specific projects fairly soon.
“The reality is you’ve been underserved,” Berkbigler told the seniors in the room. “The county has not done a good job in being up here face-to-face in the last 10 years. We don’t know how much (money) is sitting there, but we need to use those funds.”
“The money will be identified as we start planning and costs,” Schiller added.
With funding, the county wants to use what is available right now, they explained, rather than applying grant funds, because that may affect long-term sustainability.
Berkbigler said the Incline Village General Improvement District does a good job with what is currently available, but considering the district by law can only provide recreation as a whole, the county needs to have more of a presence in filling in the gaps with local seniors and older residents.
“They are not the government, we are. So we need to be here,” she said.
When asked in a follow-up interview for specifics about the funding available, Schiller couldn’t provide actual amounts.
“The Department of Social Services currently funds services to seniors through grants, (the) Washoe County General fund, and dedicated funding for indigent services (per state law),” Schiller said. “Funding utilized from (the) dedicated indigent fund must be used to fund services for programs serving the indigent population and require verification of eligibility.
“It is anticipated that a significant portion of the funding for … senior services (in Incline) will be from both the indigent source and other Social Services funding.”
LOOKING AT OPTIONS
Despite not knowing specifics about the money, Berkbigler and Schiller told Oct. 20 meeting attendees they want to kick-start projects ASAP before the Nevada Legislature sweeps the county’s funds into other programs.
Working in conjunction with IVGID, Washoe County is seeking input on senior needs and wants in the Incline Village/Crystal Bay community, in order to allocate monies.
Based on feedback received from a previous Conversation Café, Berkbigler and Schiller came back Oct. 20 to specifically address transportation and the possibility for a senior center.
“That $17,000 transportation budget is not going away,” Berkbigler said, regarding funds that are currently fed through IVGID for the 55+ Senior Transportation Program.
Incline Village resident Jim Nowlin said he feels the transportation system in Nevada is worse than California’s, and he would like to see one that better serves North Lake Tahoe’s workforce.
“Unfortunately, Lake Tahoe has been designated by the feds as a municipality like Sacramento,” Berkbigler said. “That type of designation affects how we can do transportation.”
A SENIOR CENTER FOR INCLINE?
In finding a location for the senior center, the old library at 855 Alder Ave., may be the perfect fit.
Currently hosting the U.S. Forest Service North Shore Office, the county-owned building has a meeting space and kitchen facilities that could work for IV/CB senior residents.
At the Oct. 20 meeting, residents brought up wanting a place that allows them to play bridge, adequate meeting space for various types of community forums, a computer training program, a kitchen, and homemaking services.
“The county is very effective at running senior centers,” Berkbigler said, although she admitted Incline Village has been somewhat ignored.
A few residents also expressed the common concern over the years that Incline Village sends plenty of tax dollars down the hill to the whole county, but isn’t getting back a fair shake in terms of services.
After the Oct. 20 meeting, Incline Village resident Carol de Carlo said, “Marsha admitted we only get 10 cents on the dollar,” about money coming back to the community for senior services.
Incline resident Shelia Leijon — who over the years has worked for IVGID to help promote and manage senior programs — added that a decade ago, IVGID was granted as much as $273,000 through the county for social services.
Seven years later, that figure decreased to $74,000.
“That’s not OK; we need to get that money back,” she said.
IVGID Community Services Director Sharon Heider said that IVGID is a great voice for seniors, but the district needs to hear from the segment that may not be as active.
She mentioned that a senior center would be great for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia to be able to give caregivers a break.
IVGID Parks and Recreation Director Indra Winquest added, “We are really going to work with Marsha and Kevin on what types of services we can offer. We want to help them fill in those gaps. From this point on, there will just be continuous conversation. We encourage you to come to us with your questions.”
As of last week, Berkbigler said the county was planning to provide a list of senior services currently offered in other areas, as well as to send out a survey to the Oct. 20 Conversation Café attendees to gain more feedback.
“We don’t need to do everything right now; it will evolve. The important part is getting the process started,” Berkbigler said.
Kayla Anderson is an Incline Village-based freelance writer with a background in marketing and journalism. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.